Without proper execution, Saving Hope had the possibility of being a really cheesy punch line at the end of the bad joke above. Luckily, the series’ three leads, Erica Durance, Daniel Gillies, and Michael Shanks are good at their jobs and succeeded in sucking me into the world of Hope Zion Hospital and the lives of their new characters.
The show opens with the scene that made it into all of the promos. Doctor couple, Alex Reid (Durance) and Charlie Harris (Shanks), are in a cab on their way to get married. They’re minding their own business, making out in the back, when they get hit at the corner of York and Adelaide. (Side Note: Besides the whole coma ghost plot, this is the one part of the episode where I had some serious trouble suspending my disbelief. Anyone who knows Toronto traffic knows you cannot go over 20km/h in the downtown core. That car that hit them must have ripped through at least 20 cyclists, some construction workers and a streetcar or two before it made it to the intersection. Why wasn’t Hope Z busier?) Besides a cut on his head, there are no indications Dr. Charlie is going into coma mode. The writers either did that so they didn’t have to bang up Michael Shanks’ ruggedly handsome face, or they really wanted to include that scene where he saves the driver’s life, so that everyone watching could make the requisite “tampons save lives … period” joke.
The episode then flash-forwards to earlier in the day, to the big doctor meeting taking place in the hospital lecture hall. Dr. Charlie and Dr. Alex are bantering over a patient with a tumor in his arm. Dr. Lin calls it foreplay, but really the scene seems to be providing insight into the dichotomy between the two of them. He doctors with his head, while she seems to doctor from the heart. (I am excited to see how they explore that dynamic in later episodes.) Meeting adjourned. There’s some more doctor on doctor love and a girl who comes in for stomach pains because she didn’t know she was pregnant.
The show really picks up speed with the introduction of Dr. Joel (Gillies). He comes in riding a bus crash body like a boogie-board. It turns out the patient was talking to the bus driver and got hurled through the front windshield upon impact (Again, what TTC bus is going this fast downtown? How? Can I take it to work?). Alex and Charlie get to share some nice small talk over the operating table. After the surgery, Alex catches up with Dr. Joel. Turns out they used to date.
I like this show. Within the first 15 minutes I know who is sleeping with whom, who used to sleep with whom, and who ends up in a coma. If anything, I wish they had invested a bit more time into the Charlie/Alex romance, only because Dr. Joel is so pretty, it’s hard to remember why I want Dr. Charlie to wake up.
Eventually we make it back to the present time line, where Dr. Alex is so distraught over Dr. Charlie’s coma that she cannot go home. She suits up and goes back to work. She even gets to deliver a baby. Then Dr. Charlie flat-lines; Dr. Alex is paralyzed. It seems as if every other doctor in the hospital rushes into the room to save him, while she just stands there. She even loses it during the craniotomy. Dr. Shahir (Huse Madhavji) is cool as a cucumber. If the roles were reversed, how would Dr. Charlie have reacted? I feel like that’s a large part of the story, right there: What Would Dr. Charlie Do? It even comes up after Alex is forced to have the DNR (do not resuscitate) conversation. She is unable to make the decision until Dr. Joel tries to reassure her about Charlie’s condition. His voice of optimism, and her distaste for him, causes her to adopt Charlie’s voice – the pragmatic, black and white one. She talks about how Dr. Charlie is twice the surgeon Dr. Joel will ever be. Could be the truth, but Dr. Joel’s hopeful outlook makes you understand how the two of them ended up together in the first place. He Googled Dr. Charlie’s arm patient, learned about him, and tried to convince him he had options. He did not have to lose an arm because he felt guilty over surviving a war. Dr. Alex did the same thing when trying to convince Mitchell not to push away his newborn son because he blamed him for the death of his girlfriend.
At this point the show could go in any direction and remain interesting. Perhaps it could focus on Dr. Alex being torn between the two men in her life or even what kind of doctor she wanted to be, but one of Coma Charlie’s final quotes made me excited for something else: “We can’t second guess ourselves, at least that’s what I used to think”. I am curious to see what kind of doctor HE ends up being after his spirit coma walk through the halls of Hope Zion.
Also, based on what happened at Hope Z today – I never want to eat dandelion root, have a baby, or hit my head.
“Try not to page me, I’m going to get married”
“I am having an out of body experience… in a tuxedo”
“No, there’s a pizza bagel in there and I’m hungry because I just got my stomach pumped”